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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

best of 2013 by nadia buyse (aka DUBAIS)

Best Performances of 2013

Maybe this is a gross generalization here, but 2013 was a year of division. The consensus from everyone I’ve talked to about their personal 2013 was an expressed duality; both the highest highs and the lowest lows, massive accomplishments and overwhelming defeat. The world at large felt separation, internal/exterior struggle, and then polarized this energy to turn grit into diamonds.... but perhaps I’m being too romantic.

I definitely felt a divide on how to approach this ‘best of’ list. Do I talk about my favorite albums of the year? Do I talk about my favorite bands this year? In the end I decided to make my list focus on the best performances I ” saw” in 2013. So here it is, in no particular order or fashion, the best performances of 2013 according to me!

1. MATTRESS (Portland, Or)

I decide to start with Mattress because Mattress is the band I have seen the most this year, not only because we toured, but because MATTRESS is literally one of my favorite Portland bands. Every show has ambience and sex appeal. MATTRESS is the music baby of Rex Marshall. Rex grew up in Las Vegas. Legend has it Rex started singing at the ripe age of 7 after getting a gig at the CIRCUS CIRCUS from his showgirl girlfriend. Since then he has perfected a post post minimalist lo fi lounge experimental persona that is undeniable. He is also the lead singer of the Vietnam vet core blues-rock band SLIM FORTUNE.

2. SKIING (Berlin, Germany)

Everett Darling is a pop genius and Berlin is lucky to have him. I first met Everett the day I moved to Olympia; we started our first band that day. After that we were in many bands together in Olympia (The Itch, Becky, Fierce Perm) and one this summer in Berlin (Business Lunch.) Fast forward years later, Everett is living in Berlin and has started the band Skiing. Skiing is pop gold, (think Michael Hurley if he was into shoe gaze and riot grrl.). I saw them play multiple times but every show was an inspiration. So, at this point I should say the Berlin ‘punk/indie/whatever the kids are calling it these days’ scene is a total boys town (not to be confused with the electronic/experimental/performance scene which is a feminist/ queer utopia. ... And more Brown people are coming around too.) Every time I saw Skiing play Everett would sing in falsetto and dress in drag or wear a t shirt that would say something like “ in this T shirt is the body of a gay man” or do something to get the attention of all the sadwhiteboys and make those queens DANCE.

3. BODY/HEAD (Portland, Or T: BA festival)

BODY/HEAD is the newest project by Kim Gordan. If you were a teenager in the 90’s I guarantee you LOVED Sonic Youth probably as much as I LOVED Sonic Youth. I, like most people, felt the loss after they disbanded but was more excited to see what Kim would do next. She has always been one of my favorite feminist icons and I knew whatever she did would be AMAZING. What I didn’t know was that I would be performing the Pop Opera I had been working on for the last year after BODY/HEAD’s first Portland show at the Time based Art festival. Their performance was incredible; an epic sonic drama enhanced with cinematic projections. (PICA really knows how to Program a show!)

4. The Quaintrelles (Los Angelas, CA)

I should preface this by saying that this was the year I really felt a separation with punk scene/ punk music. Even if the music was good, (which often times it’s just regurgitated crap made by college kids who think being poor is cool) I was just hyper aware of the superficiality, exclusivity, and false hierarchy that exists at a lot of shows and in a lot of bands’ performance energy/presentation. It’s just kind of gross. But the Quaintrelles reminded me of the reasons I first fell in love with punk. The band couldn’t have been older than 20, two girls, two boys; all of which had made their own sharpie t-shirts. They did some covers (California Uber Alles) and originals (one song that was introduced as being about cheese and communism.) The music didn’t move me but the energy those kids had brought me back to be a young punk and just being so excited to play with my friends. You’ve never heard of this band, and you might not ever hear them… but all of those kids will continue to play music and be on some great bands I bet. The band was given their name by Taquila Mockingbird who is the main curator/ founder of the Punk Rock Museum.

5. Weird Fiction and the artificial empathy Machine (Portland, OR)

Weird Fiction is Weird… it’s not just a clever name. They played a show at Valentines with World Gang to pretty much no one. At this show they created the Artificial Empathy Machine, which the band played inside of. This machine had the ability to take your picture, fulfill your desires, and send sexy texts… I still don’t know how the machine got my phone number. PS. World gang was pretty great too, for the record.

. 6.Bahrain Music Camp for girls Showcase (Manama, Bahrain)

One of the most exciting things this year for me was getting the opportunity to go to Bahrain to start the Bahrain music camp for girls with my friends Beth and Sarah. Everyone who has been to a Rock Camp Show Case knows how awesome they are. This One was particularly special for me though, maybe it was the pre showcase epic dance party we had…. Also there were a lot more rappers than usual… I dig that.

7. Morgan and the Organ Donors (Olympia, WA) Just when I thought Morgan and the Organ Donors couldn’t get any better Olivia (from one of my favorite bands of all time C.O.C.O) joined the band… WTF!?

8. The Legend of Drake (Portland, Or)

So I’m pretty sure that one of the best things to happen to music this year was Drake’s album nothing was the same. It’s the best things that happened to R&B since Frank Ocean’s Orange Channel album last year, that’s for sure. Drake came to play Portland while on tour supporting his new album last month. I was so bummed because 1. I didn’t hear about it until the day of 2. I was DEATHLY sick, so naturally 3. I didn’t get to go. But I have to say that the ripple effect and ephemera of his time in Portland was magic. So first of all, Drake went to Black book after the show, which is the former Yes and No; a bar in downtown Portland that only a very small group of people cared existed until it closed and later re opened as Black book. The Instagram was all a buzz. The next days there were local news outfits telling stories of Drake visiting a homeless shelter in downtown and to give a large chuck of money to them for blankets and other necessities. Even though I didn’t get to see his show, the spectacle of his presence in my city was omnipresent.

9. The Germs (Los Angeles, CA)

The Germs were one of my favorite bands and I was pretty convinced it was impossible to see them live. The version I did see; consisting of original members Don Bolles and Pat Smear, was supplemented by Charlotte from the GoGos and Shane West, the guy who played Darby in What we do is Secret. I don’t think it was particularly the best show I’ve ever seen, I mean everyone playing nailed it and it sounded pretty good; but the fact that I was watching some dude, a Hollywood actor, do Darby Crash drag, was a weird experience. But good weird, It was like a flesh version of the 2 Pac hologram.

10. 48 hour performance art marathon at Month of Performance art Berlin (Berlin, Germany)

So last, but not least I got to give a shout out to the 48hour performance art marathon, which is the pinnacle of the Month of Performance art Berlin. It is my belief that Germany rolls DEEEEEEP in an art way. For anyone that has ever been to (d)OCUMENTA, Gallery Weekend, 48 hours Neukoilln, or any other German art party is my witness… Shit is cray cray. I mean, the UDK (Universitat der Kunst) open studios is like every dance party you’ve ever been to times 100 in the middle of mediocre student art (made even more mediocre by the European art school industrial complex.) Month of Performance Art was no different. The 48 hour Marathon took place in one building, every thirty minutes for two days someone would be doing a performance. The performances were varied but the real spectacle was watching VERY serious German artists essentially squatting in the gallery for two days, like sitting on the sidewalk slurping soup and brushing their teeth outside style.

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